After some great performances so far this year it surely won't be too long before Renault's Fernando Alonso claims his first victory. The Spaniard has finished in the points every time, has scored his first two podium finishes and his first pole...
After some great performances so far this year it surely won't be too long before Renault's Fernando Alonso claims his first victory. The Spaniard has finished in the points every time, has scored his first two podium finishes and his first pole position before the fifth race of the season.
The crowds at his home event in Spain this weekend will no doubt be hoping for something special. Alonso himself is keeping it low key but Renault technical director Mike Gascoyne is predicting, as others have, another champion in the making.
"It's hard to put your finger on it exactly. He's obviously blindingly quick. But a lot of people can drive a racing car quickly. The ones who are really good have ability to spare -- it just comes naturally to them. And Fernando is like that."
Gacoyne says Alonso will drive the car to its maximum: "If a car is 0.2secs off the pace, some drivers will let it get to them and be a second slower. But Fernando would be exactly 0.2secs off for the whole race."
"You can't shout at him to go quicker, because he's always on the limit. And the mechanics worship him. If he crashes the car, they'd stay up all night over and over again to repair it if they had to because they know he'll go quick in it."
Alonso is not letting any extra pressure settle on him for his home race and Gascoyne thinks if he can get a good finish in Spain, the 22-year-old will be made. "It will be a measure of him. If he sticks it on the podium or something in Barcelona with all the fuss that will be going on around him, and treats it like it is any other race, that's when you'll know he's really got it."
"And I think you'll see him breeze through the weekend as though it is at the Nurburgring, not in Spain. Fernando is definitely going to win world championships."
Gascoyne thinks McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen could also be a champion, comparing him to Mika Hakkinen, but Alonso he compares to the current title holder. "I think Raikkonen could do a Mika Hakkinen, and win a couple of world championships when the car is good, but I don't think he'll be the bloke who wins a race when the car should not, like Michael can."
"But I think Fernando will. He's got that edge. Is Fernando a Schumacher? Yeah, I think he is."
Strong praise indeed and being compared to a five-time world champion is probably many a driver's dream. However, perhaps the young Spaniard might prefer to make his mark as the first Fernando Alonso rather than the next Schumacher.